South Africans urged to vaccinate as COVID-19 cases increase

South Africans urged to vaccinate as COVID-19 cases increase

A panel of experts warns that South Africa is not yet out of the woods, despite the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions.

Speaking during a virtual conference they have reiterated that the vaccine is still the best form of protection against the virus. Experts delved into the challenges which have contributed to the low vaccine up take.

Less than 45% of the South African population has been vaccinated, a far cry from government’s 75% target.

South Africa has been grappling with low demand for vaccines. One health expert has attributed this to a trust deficit between residents and government communication.

Acting Chief Director at the Department Of Health Dr Lesley Bramford says people want reliable information from a trustworthy source.

“People want information from a source that they trust. There has been a lot of information and misinformation.
There has been a lot of misinformation that has been flowing. But the biggest finding is that people want information from a source they can trust.”

The panelists have identified the younger population as the most vaccine hesitant. Their research shows that large metros and informal settlements have recorded a low vaccination rate.

They’re proposing a change in some norms to encourage more people to get vaccinated.

“I think if we frame our conversation today into what will becoming the new norm in the population that is resistant. What can we do structurally to address vaccine hesitancy, so it is not an individual decision but something that is driven by communities” says Researcher Jane Simmonds.

So far, government has used various methods to communicate the benefits of vaccinations to the most vulnerable. Other efforts include engaging with local leaders, such as, preachers, ward councillors and chiefs.

Communicating in all the 11 official languages also contributed to over 50 000 people getting the jab within a period of 3 months.

COVID-19 LATEST

The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported 5 062 new COVID-19 cases in South Africa. This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3 769 927.

The institute says there may be a backlog of COVID-19 mortality cases reported as a result of the ongoing audit exercise by the National Department of Health.

“Today, the National Department of Health reports 15 deaths and of these, six occurred in the past 24 -48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 100 348 to date,” says the institute in a statement.

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